Monday, July 14, 2014

They're Definitely Brothers....

Ok... I know this is painfully obvious based on time/place and the fact that I just posted a bunch of pictures of Crosby, BUT let's just see who looks like who here with a little guessing game!







Can you guess who's who? And the larger question in this house is... who the heck does Crosby look like?? See, Max is clearly Ritchie's child and Ben is a DEFINITE Rieger (in more than just his looks) so that begs the question.... does the Crosby favor Maxton or Bennett more? (And therefore more Ritchie or me?) 

A. Bennet B. Maxton C. Maxton D. Crosby E. Bennett F. Crosby 

Saturday, July 5, 2014

An Adoption Update

Or... a lack of one, really. To be honest, we're not really sure what the heck is happening with our adoption plans.

When Crosby was diagnosed with aortic stenosis, we really had to take a step back and figure some things out. We're still not exactly sure what aortic stenosis is going to mean in our lives. For now, it's not a huge deal. But, when it comes time for surgery and recovery, we have no idea what we're in for. Both financially and emotionally. Our adopted daughter was also expected to have a physical special need. Either also a heart condition or a cleft lip/palate. Both would require surgery most likely. We just felt unsure of whether or not we could handle two children with medical needs.

That feels so horrible to say or even think. I feel tremendous guilt over these thoughts and struggle regularly with these realities. I so wish I felt like I had the strength to commit to another baby amidst learning of Crosby's condition. But, the truth is, I didn't. So, after some thought, we removed the option for cleft lip/palate from our medical checklist. We're now only open to receiving a child with a minor heart condition. We already have a team of specialists that we're working with and we assume we'll be pretty well versed on matters of the heart (we already know more than I ever thought I'd have to) so we'd be the perfect parents for a baby with a minor heart condition. For now, that's where our comfort lies. FOR NOW. That could all change. We might get to Crosby's first birthday (the first year with this condition is the most telling) and realize that his stenosis will most likely have very little impact on our lives and feel perfectly comfortable committing to a child with higher medical needs than his. We'll just have to wait and see.

The wait for a child with only a minor heart condition is much longer. We were supposed to be matched by now, or very soon. Now, we're likely to wait another year or longer even just to be matched. And, in that time, any number of things can happen. We may decide to add cleft lip/palate back on the checklist, we may decide we would like to wait even longer than 18 months and expand our wait even longer, or we may decide not to pursue adoption anymore at this time. We really just don't know how we're going to feel.

I'd be lying if I said there wasn't heartbreak involved in all of this. I feel some peace knowing that we could very well still adopt a sweet girl and that I could look back on this and know that this was just all a small part of her story. The story that brings us together. But, there's also the very real possibility that our family is complete and I'll never know her. Which also means I'll never experience raising a daughter. These potential losses feel very real to me. Yet, grieving feels wrong somehow.

I intend to write some about postpartum depression since I'm certain I'm experiencing that this time around. And I'm almost 100% certain my depression began after Crosby's diagnoses and our adoption plans changed. Such a hard thing to have your life course rapidly change after so much anticipation and preparation. But then, I feel so odd grieving something I never actually had. And, of course, I feel so grateful for my three boys and that (even given the stenosis!) they're healthy and thriving. Why grieve?

So, that's where we are. Limbo. Thanks for reading. Putting this out into the void helps some. We have tremendous support in our lives and I couldn't ask for a better partner in Ritchie. We'll figure this all out. Someday.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Crosby at 3 Months Old

I can't believe I haven't updated this blog in so long! Oh, wait.. I actually can believe it because I'm basically drowning in children.

Nevertheless, Crosby is a precious, treasured part of the Lincoln's Life and therefore he needs to be documented! What a sweet, sweet baby he is! He's typically mellow and smiles easily. He likes to observe the world around him and is very tuned into sounds specifically. He has a ticklish spot right under his chin(s) and will give belly laughs every time you kiss him there. He also LOVES to be sung to and the one he smiles the most for is "Forever Young". I can't sing it to him without tearing up. This baby boy makes me incredibly emotional.

Just some facts for me to remember later: At 3 months, he's a little over 14 pounds and has gained about 1/2 a pound per week consistently. He's really long, too - but I can't remember that number right now. He's a big kid, just like his brothers. He's getting all sorts of little rolls and is wearing 3-6 month clothing but I fear we'll be out of those in no time. He wakes up several times in the evening. 3-5 times maybe? Honestly, I've stopped looking at the clock. I just nurse him and hand him off to Ritchie who rocks him some and then puts him back in the rock and play sleeper where he currently sleeps. It's working. We're tired, but that's how this phase goes so I'm not terribly worried about it. He had his heart checked at 2 months and it was looking the same, which was good news. We'll have it checked again at 4 months. If he continues not to make any changes through the first year then we can begin monitoring him less and less. He'll eventually need to do SOMETHING about his aortic valve, but when is still a huge unknown.

What else??

Maybe some pictures? Ugh, and so sorry for the small, crummy pics. My computer is KILLING me right now and not letting me resize the files. So you get the lovely blogger resizing. Blah.

0-1 month old:

1-2 months:

2-3 months:

And right at 3 months old. These pictures kill me, they're so very him right now. Rocking the tummy time, sucking his bottom lip, looking at me like I'm weird. 

And, proof that he does, indeed smile like I said... 

He just won't do it when the camera's in his face. I have to hold it elsewhere which is why I only caught part of him. I still love it. He's the best. 

Crosby, 3 months with you and we feel like you've been here forever. You have all of our hearts. Your brothers adore you and Daddy and I marvel at you every day. You are the perfect fit in our family and in our hearts. Smooooch! 

Friday, April 4, 2014

One Week of Crosby

Our littlest Lincoln has been with us for one whole week already! We're just loving every single second of this little nugget.

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He's super mellow. I totally thought he'd be feisty, but nope. Totally chill. I've always said this child would surprise us forever (from conception on!) and he's proving me right.

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He sleeps in 3 hour chunks and we often even have to wake him up to nurse him at night. He's a champion eater and has already surpassed his birth weight in his first week. He still looks teeny tiny to me though, thank goodness!

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We couldn't leave the hospital for awhile because he was refusing to pee and now he's peed on us more than we can count. And our sheets. And his clothes. And our couch. Basically, the kid has definitely figured out how to pee.

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Maxton and Bennett have adjusted so far beautifully! They love to hold him and are always asking if Crosby will be with us. They want him to come everywhere with them! Max even asked to have Cros sleep with him so he could "snuggle him all up". These boys are my life. I adore each and every one of them.

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While we've enjoyed our easy going baby to the fullest, we've also been on an emotional ride this week. In the hospital, we were told that Crosby had a heart murmur. We were told this is SUPER common and it's probably nothing and would go away on its own. Our pediatrician listened to it and said the same thing, but still wanted us to have a cardiologist listen to be sure. We saw the cardiologist on Wednesday and they thoroughly checked out his little heart just to be sure it was nothing to be concerned with. It turns out it was. Crosby has something called Aortic Valve Stenosis. I would try to explain it, but that would be ridiculous because I'm still learning all about it. Essentially, for now, his heart if functioning wonderfully. That will not always be the case. We have to keep a close eye on his heart and he will eventually need surgery to repair or replace his aortic valve. We're not sure when or how he will be affected yet. We're told that people live full, long wonderful lives with this disease. Of course, we were devastated and it's sort of flipped our little world upside down. We're trying to do minimal research so as not to get too freaked out and we're just focusing on what we need to do for Crosby right now. Which is make sure he's eating well (sometimes babies with this disease have a hard time gaining weight - so far Crosby is not) and is loved by us (duh). He'll see the cardiologist every couple of months and we should know more about his particular condition over the next 6-12 months.

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Unexpected heart condition aside, we're hanging in there. I'm emotional and I'm exhausted (despite the good sleeping infant!) We've had to modify our adoption timeline significantly based on Crosby's needs, so we've been dealing a bit with the logistics of that. And I know that as each cardio appointment approaches, I'll be panicked. But, I'll figure out how to be strong for my son. I'm sure soon I'll know more about Aortic Valve Stenosis than I even need to and I'll know Crosby's mannerisms so well that I'll be able to spot a symptom a mile away.

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In the meantime, we're just loving our kid. Ritchie and I agree that there's a spark to his eyes. This kid is special.

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We couldn't love you more, Crosby! This past week has been one of the best in my life getting to know you! Thanks for sneaking into our lives and hearts. I'm SO glad you did.

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Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Crosby's Birth Story

Crosby's birth story, with a little name story thrown in the mix, is long and filled with little details that I want to remember forever. Pardon the length and pictures of my hugeness. This is his story... 

I was due on March 13. However, from the beginning there was a question as to whether I was actually due then or the 20th or somewhere in between. Anyway, according to my original due date, I was 42 weeks and 1 day when I went in to get this show on the road. I wasn't thrilled with being induced and I was very leery of medical interventions. But, I agreed to show up bright and early at 6 a.m. and discuss my options for induction.

We showed up at ten minutes to six and they let us know they needed to clean the room and we'd be taken back to our room shortly. Over 30 minutes later, I was super antsy and frustrated that I wasn't even admitted yet! They brought us back shortly after that. We were in room 602.

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They hooked me up because they wanted to do monitoring to make sure everything was looking good with the baby and see if I was in labor already. Around 7 a.m. the midwife who I had scheduled the induction with and really trusted did an exam. She explained to me that his head was dropping just a bit far forward on my pelvic bone rather than on my cervix. I was still considered a tight 2 and 50% effaced. So... no change all week. But, at least I knew why. She didn't want to break my water without him in the correct position, so she offered me the option of misoprostol, a medication that helps to soften the cervix and slightly dilate or a catheter with a bulb that is inserted and is supposed to help you dilate to about 4 cm. We were left with those options with some time to decide since they needed to continue monitoring.

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I got on the birth ball and tried to move him into position on my own.

The midwife who would actually deliver me, Jennifer, came in around 8:10 to talk to me more about how I wanted to proceed. I was originally thinking I wanted to avoid all medications, therefore I'd go with the catheter method. However, Jennifer explained to me that they often send people home with the catheter in place and have them return 12-24 hours later to see how they had progressed. I couldn't fathom waiting any longer at that point. I was there, I was mentally committed, I needed to just have this baby today. So, I opted for the misoprostol. They would give it 4 hours to work its magic and then we'd see where to go from there. She inserted it around 8:45 a.m. and said that I was 2.5 cm and 75% effaced.

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My birth team was, of course, Ritchie, but also Kim, one of my closest friends.

About 15 minutes after they put the medicine in, I began having regular contractions - 3-5 min apart that were totally manageable. I would breathe a bit, but could still talk and laugh and continue our name search. Through the 4 hours we mostly just looked for baby names.

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We played around writing names on the board seeing how they looked. About a week prior, we had completely ruled out Finnley. I had started having concerns weeks prior about the name Finnley being too feminine and I kept coming across little girls named Finnley everywhere. Then Ritchie and I kept hearing "Ben" when we'd say "Finn" or vice versa and at one point Ritchie looked at me and said, "Are we seriously going to do this our whole lives?" The answer was no. No, we were not.

He was Samson for a few days after that, but Ritchie couldn't stop saying, "Sampson" the way they say it in the movie Half Baked and just couldn't get on board. We really tried to come up with something that we LOVED that followed our rules, but ultimately we loved the name Crosby (it was just randomly thrown out there along with Foster, Sawyer and Tucker) and therefore we decided to just get over the whole rule thing and pick a name we loved. It was pretty liberating actually. We continued to discuss names up until really active labor and the only other one we came up with was Tytus, but Ritchie just didn't love it... Dragon made the cut for awhile though. We'll call him Cros, so he'll have a nickname, but it definitely doesn't fit our rules, and I guess that's just fine!

At 1:45, Jennifer came back in to see what the medicine had done for me. I was 3 cm at 90% effaced and he had dropped beautifully into the right position! She asked me if she could just "massage" my cervix some to see if that might stimulate more of a steady labor pattern. She stretched me to 4 cm by doing that and then left me to labor for awhile.

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By 2:10 the contractions were getting longer and stronger. I had to lean against Ritchie or Kim and have my butt and upper legs massaged through them. Some time before 3pm, Jennifer came back in to see how things were progressing. It was obvious at that point that I was in active labor and she felt like she could just let me keep going without breaking my water or doing anything else. I decided I wanted to get in the tub. The contractions were feeling much more intense.

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At 3:30 I got out of the tub. I loved the water for the contractions, but my legs and feet kept cramping because of the position I had to be in. I got out and began leaning against Ritchie and bending forward in low, long moans. I got a lot of breaks in between contractions. I'd often have a weak one, then a 3 min break and then a really strong one. I was still talking in between contractions, but I had gone from making jokes and really holding conversations to asking my midwife (who hung out in there with us for awhile) questions about "how much longer" and "is this normal?" and the occasional, "this is bullshit!" I kept looking at the clock. I was SO pissed that it was taking longer than an hour. When you shoot your second kid out in an hour and a half, you get pretty pissed that you needed to be induced and now it's taking what feels like FOREVER to get to the pushing part for your 3rd.

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Do you see my nurse and midwife laughing in the background there? I love this picture for that reason. This was maybe 1 hour before he was born? They were hanging and making jokes and encouraged Kim to take a pic of my belly. It's stretch marked and large and I certainly don't feel "beautiful" looking at it, but it IS beautiful. It's holding life. I'm so glad I have this picture. Kimberly took all of these pictures and I treasure them all.

My midwife was so amazing. She was so encouraging. I definitely questioned my ability to continue on with a natural delivery. I kept asking if I should just get the epidural. She kept insisting that I could do it, that I was doing wonderfully. Everyone insisted on that, in fact. My support that day was incredible. I highly suggest that anyone who wants a natural labor have a strong support system in place.

Things get fuzzy for me at this point. I know I eventually moved over to the bed to be checked - that was shortly after 5pm. I was 8 cm. I felt really, really defeated at that point. I hadn't even been through transition yet? I was REALLY not sure I was going to make it. My midwife suggested breaking my water at that point because she thought it would make it all faster for me, but I kept wavering. Mostly because I knew it would be more intense, but also because I wanted to try to keep things as natural as possible. She ended up having to run out of the room before I could say yes, so my water stayed in tact for the time being. Because I had just been checked, I was laying down in the bed and because I was in transition, I refused to move. So, I laid there and pretty much bitched and moaned through every. single. contraction. I BEGGED the nurse for an epidural at that point. Whiny, whimpering words while I looked deep into her eyes, begging her to save me from this pain. I didn't look at Ritchie or Kim, just the nurse. I knew she had the power. I also knew it was too late. I didn't have an IV, so they would have had to administer an IV, give me fluids and get the anesthesiologist into the room. The baby would be here by then. But, oh, I wanted it. Of course, I'm very glad I didn't get it, but I'm telling you all of this because I think it's assumed that if you choose to have a natural child birth that you are "strong" and whatever else. I think it's VERY common for women to "cave" and request an epidural even though they really don't want one.

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This is what transition looked like. It sounded VERY loud. Think a tarzan like cry... that's what my noises reminded me of.

I had a few (5 maybe?) contractions in the bed like that before the midwife came back and I started yelling things like "PRESSURE!!!" and Kim snapped this picture of the clock when I started pushing:

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5:27 pm

The midwife apparently said (according to Kim) "Let's just see what happens" with my pushing. And 2 very loud and very painful pushes later and he was out. He was born at 5:29 pm. Those two minutes were SO insanely intense. I can't describe it. With Ben, I felt him very slowly emerge. Crosby sort of catapulted out of me it felt like.

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He was handed straight to me.

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And I immediately fell in love. That's never happened with me. I've written before about how I fall in love with my babies over time. It was different this time. I was overcome with love and really couldn't stop looking at him. He was very blue and I really wanted him to pink up and cry because I couldn't stand the thought of them having to take him. They let him stay with me and he did get pink and start crying and was just... perfect.

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My first time nursing him.

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I eventually let Ritchie hold him :) What a proud dad he is. We have a picture with a smile similar to this with him holding each of the boys on the day they were born. I'm going to frame all 3 of them together one day. I'm in awe of this man and the dad and husband he is. I love him more and more with each child we have together.

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After an hour they weighed and measured him and we got all ready to go to our recovery room and rest.

I felt so amazing afterwards. I was SO insanely happy that I had achieved a natural hospital birth with no drugs and minimal intervention. For an induction, I was really pleased. The nurses and midwife were all so supportive and I was able to birth the way that I believe is right for me and my babies. And THAT is what the experience should be.

And, Crosby? Our little surprise, in SO many ways. We're just all so in love with him. He's special, this one. I couldn't be happier that our family planning didn't work out the way we intended and that he's a part of our family. He belongs with us. Our littlest Lincoln.

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Crosby Robert Lincoln 
March 28, 2014
5:29 PM
7 pounds 12 ounces 
20.5 inches long 

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Pregnancy Brain Dump

This is the last pregnancy post I'll do. I never plan to be pregnant again (only this time measures are being taken to be MUCH more certain that this statement is accurate) and this baby is coming out for sure in the next few days.

*Sigh* According to my last period, I'm 42 weeks pregnant tomorrow. Somewhere early in pregnancy, we chose to use a "due date" of March 13 instead of March 20 (there were a few contradictory ultrasounds) and therefore I began the journey of becoming more and more pregnant and mentally ready for a 3rd baby to be here around the 20. I chose a week past my given due date because Ben was a week late, so I just figured it was safer to give this baby a full extra week.

And, here we sit on the eve of March 27. 7 full days later than the mental due date I had for myself. 2 full weeks after my given due date, but potentially only 1 full week late. It's SUCH a mental game, isn't it? I thought I was being GENEROUS to this child by mentally preparing myself for the 20th. I really wasn't mentally prepared to still be pregnant right now. And, being mentally prepared means SO much.  In any case, this little bugger is taking a super long time to find the exit sign in there and I'm tempted to stick a flashlight up there and give him a little guidance...

So, here I sit. 41 or 42 weeks or somewhere in between. Large, uncomfortable, in pain every day, unable to sleep well or bend over. I've become the third child that Ritchie has to put shoes on in the morning. I'm REALLY trying to be positive and it comes in waves. Sometimes, I'm all - YES! Pregnancy, let the baby be, he'll come when he's ready, enjoy these last few days, pay special attention to Max and Ben, etc etc... but I'd say, at this point, about 98% of my time is spent obsessing over is the baby coming, is that a contraction, ooh there's another one, FUCK they stopped, shit labor really hurts - is there any way out of this now? WHY HASN'T HE COME OUT YET?! None of these thoughts are pleasant or productive, please know that I know that.

So... my midwife group here (well, the ONE midwife that I actually like and managed to snag an appointment with on Monday - which, for journaling purposes, I was checked and was 2cm and 50-60% effaced and baby was low) was totally fine with me going all the way up to "42" weeks and was happy to even let me pick a middle ground since we're unsure of the actual due date. Friday morning isn't exactly a middle ground, but I chose it because it works for everyone's schedule (and, hey, if you're going to PLAN your damn birth you may as well make it convenient, right?) and because she would be there to help me figure out my induction plan based on my cervical readiness/baby's position that morning. I really trust her the most out of everyone I've met, so Friday it is.

So, here's the thing. We did a home birth with Bennett. I totally and completely believe that babies come when they're ready and that inductions that aren't medically necessary (and those that are, frankly) often lead to even more interventions and ultimately result in more c-sections. These are my own personal thoughts and I believe every woman has a right to think/feel the way she'd like to about birth and her own experiences. Want a c-section? Go for it! Want to pick every child's birthday and be induced so you can control when they come? By all means! Want to push your baby out with a midwife in a field of daisies under the moon? I hope that works out for you!! I seriously see the pros and cons of ALL of these scenarios and believe, if possible, that a woman should get to choose.

For me, I'm more the daisies under the moon route. We couldn't afford a home birth this time. It totally sucks. Hospitals give you that deadline. I'm up against that deadline now. I'm feeling super sad about that. I wish with all my might that he'll come on his own tonight or tomorrow or tomorrow night or even start up labor like 20 minutes before we're scheduled to go into the hospital. I'd give ANYTHING for that to happen. However, I'm really trying to prepare myself for that not happening. I'm trying to remember that every baby is different and every pregnancy is different and maybe this little turd needs a jump start. It happens, I know. I'm trying very hard not to feel like a failure in what is my final pregnancy and birth.

And, because this was ridiculously long winded and full of swears and basically me whining the whole time, I thought I'd share with you how jacked up my brain is right now by telling you two funny things.  Sort of like a bonus for reading all of this crap.

1. Max and Ben's preschool called on Monday morning at like 6:30am to let me know it was canceled for the day. The area code was a WA area code and I swear to you, in my sleepy haze, I got super excited and thought it was the hospital calling me to tell me that I was in labor. I was unbelievably excited.

2. There's a sign on the path to preschool (which I drive 8 times a week) that says something about contractors and EVERY time I think it says CONTRACTIONS and I think... contractions?! Am I having contractions?!

It's all pretty ridiculous.

Friday, March 14, 2014

The Last Nursery

Back when we began the adoption process, I started planning a space for a little girl. It was all pinks and whites and golds. Once we found out that this darling babe was indeed another BOY we began to wonder what to do with our extra space. Adoption is tricky in that we weren't (still aren't!) sure of timing. We weren't sure if she'd be home when this baby was still young enough to be in our room... did we even need a nursery?

Anyway, long story... but basically when we moved to Washington we also found out that baby girl Lincoln probably wouldn't be home until closer to Finn's first birthday. And so we decided to give this little dude a nursery all his own. I think putting a space together for him helped me to bond a bit more. This is by far my favorite space I've created for the kids yet (and I really love the boys' room too, so that's saying a lot!) Here are a few pictures of the space!

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So much of the room is "repurposed". The crib was actually picked up for our daughter a long time ago used and for a steal! The dresser is from Max's nursery over 4 years ago now. The rocking chair was the one thing I bought after finding out I was pregnant. I wanted a comfy place to nurse at night that still was charming and had character.

Many of the little elements, like the gumball machine, book (another one is on the way!), goat stuffed animal, star, toys, chair pillow etc were all things we had lying around that I had used in other spaces. Even the fox canvas that I painted for him was a canvas left over from another project. I just had to buy a few colors of paint.

The bedding and crib pillows are Land of Nod. Same with the changing pad cover and floor basket. The curtains are ikea and Ritchie built the shelf and I painted it.

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And, while this little guy might have his own space, I'm sure he'll never be alone....

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His brothers like to hang out in there, so he'll always have company :)
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